Publishers pan Apple News as a big disappointment

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Apple News app
The Apple News app relies less on algorithms than other tech companies in the news business.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Apple decided to take on Flipboard with the addition of the company’s News app in iOS 9, but according to publishers, the news aggregation service has been a huge disappointment so far.

Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp ripped the serviced last week, and based on a report from DigiDay, other top publishers are also frustrated with the traffic they’re getting from the service that’s only been out for two months.

The addition of the News app to iOS 9 was supposed to be a big boon for publishers by putting content directly in front of tens of millions of iOS users. Apple says the app already has 40 million users, however most users simply haven’t adjusted to using the app to get news instead of going to Facebook, Flipboard, or other aggregators.

“I don’t think this app will compete with Flipboard and wouldn’t be surprised if Apple stops updating/supporting it by end of next year,” one industry exec told DigiDay. “News aggregation is tough, and while they don’t necessarily need the revenue, it’s not a good business.”

Apple provides publishers with a weekly data report that includes page views and shares. Publishers want a dashboard that can be used to see real-time data on demand though, plus more demographic data on users that helps sell ads to advertisers.

comScore tags were supposed to be added to Apple News to give publishers better tools. The feature has been delayed though, prompting many publishers to wonder why Apple pushed out an unfinished product instead of making a solid platform to compete with Flipboard.

“They’re not generating a ton of views or traffic, and the data they provide is basically nonexistent,” another publisher said. “They claim they’re working out kinks, and they probably will. I’m disappointed, but I’m not giving up on it.”